Michelle-Renée Smith

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Political Theory / Politics & Race

Michelle-Renée Smith, assistant professor of political science, joined Barnard’s faculty on July 1, 2011.  She teaches courses on political theory, and on politics and race.

Professor Smith’s current research centers on contemporary democratic theory, in particular the changing parameters of democratic inclusion in a post-national world. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's and Alain Locke, one of its most original thinkers, are of special interest.

Professor Smith is a Term Fellow at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University.

Academic Focus: 
  • Political Theory: Contemporary democratic theory; Black political thought; theories & critiques of identity; critical theory; history of political thought.
  • American Politics: Race & equality in political institutions.

You will find selected syllabi on-line.

POLS V 1013 Political Theory
Enrollment limited to 80 students. "L"-course sign-up through eBear.

POLS BC 3101 Colloquium on Black American Thought
Enrollment limited to 16 students. Admission by application through the Political Science Department only.

POLS BC 3329 Harlem in Theory

POLS BC 3761 Senior Research Seminar in Political Theory (no longer part of the curriculum)

Awards & Honors: 
  • Columbia University Institute for Research in African American Studies Term Fellow, 2012
  • Western Political Science Association, Best Paper in Black Political Thought, 2011
  • University of Florida Scholarship Enhancement Grant, 2010
  • Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2009
  • Vice Provost Diversity Fellowship, 2008
  • LaFeber Award for Teaching Excellence, 2007
  • The Berlin Program Fellowship, Die Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, 2005-2006
  • Graduate Resident Fellowship, Alice Cook House, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 2004-2005
  • Honorable Mention, Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship for Minorities, 2004
  • Russell Sage Fellowship, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 2002-2003
Professional Affiliations: 
Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

Barnard College Center for Research on Women

April 2012 lecture series:

"To Certain of Our Philistines: Alain Locke and the Democratic Promise of Black Art"

Columbia University Institute for Research in African American Studies, New York, NY, Conversations Series:


          "Freedom and Lyric Poetry: Platonic Themes in the Literary Criticism of Alain Locke"

New School for Social Research, Universities, Prisons and Civic Engagement:

April, 2012

"Making Connections between Rhetoric and Reality"

American Political Science Association Conference, Washington, D.C.
September 2010

Panel: The Problem of the People in American Political Thought
Paper (with co-author Desmond Jagmohan): "Overcoming White Supremacy, Overcoming Race: Booker T. Washington and Alain Locke in Pursuit of Democracy"

Race, Self, and Culture: The Neglected Contributions of Alaine Locke to Political Science
Paper: "Restoring the 'Directed' Self: Alain Locke and the Aesthetic Condition for Democracy"

Western Political Science Association Conference, San Francisco, CA
April 2010

Discussant: Race, Memory and the Body Politic

Political Theory at the Intersection of Racism and Colonialism
Paper: "All That's Solid: Difference, Race and the Political"

Panel: 19th Century America
Paper (with co-author Dietmar Schirmer): "Imagined Black Nationalism"

On leave 2014-2015


"Blackening Europe / Europeanising Blackness: Theorizing the Black Presence in Europe," Contemporary History Journal, Volume 15:03, August 2006, pp.423-439.


Updated on August 29, 2014 by Anne Wolff-Lawson.



Tel 212.854.4385


Office Hours: 

Spring 2019 Office Hours:

Monday 12:30-2:00pm, Thursday 2:15-4:00pm, or by appointment 

Milstein 1105


Cornell University, Ph.D., M.A.


Rutgers University, B.A.

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